Published on May 23rd, 2014 | by Gaelle Finley



The following is an excerpt from the letter one our readers sent us, especially relevant on election day as most of our Councillors are up for re-election.

 ‘I’d argue that the current main concern locally is the housing on the Douglas Road cul de sac and the Rookery Road development, which were passed at the Council meeting on the 6th. These will add to all the pressures locally: traffic congestion, overcrowded classrooms, rubbish and litter, overstretched health and social care services. We are especially concerned about the planned communal refuse area and want it scrapped.

Local residents have deep concerns around these planning applications as they appear to be unlawful (as an example, UK law says objections and comments on planning applications have to be accessible to everyone during consultation phase – they were not and still aren’t).  The Council did not consult groups locally (3 churches, 1 mosque, 2 schools, 1 Surestart centre). And they have not complied with their own guidelines in Mature Suburbs, Places for Living, SCI Consultation and Communication.

The residents would also like to know why their councillors didn’t attend the Planning meeting on the 6th February? And in particular why did the Labour councillors vote in favour of the scheme when the Tories and Lib Dems abstained?

The No bulky collections will only add to our woes. The area is already a tip and getting worse. Labour have done nothing to sort out this problem which has been bad for years and now getting even worse. They’ve squandered hundreds of millions on regeneration schemes ( SRB, Pathfinder, Urban Living, Neighbourhood and District Management), creating tiers of management, accountabilities and jobs, only to get rid of them a few years down the line. These schemes have failed and actually made the area less sustainable and  ess attractive to families. And still we can’t get proper cleaning and rubbish removal.

Just think about how much has been wasted since 2000 on repairing the bollards at the junction of Linwood and Albert Road. Money that could have been invested in local groups and better street cleaning. How many times has a team been sent out to do that job since 2000?

Many of us living in Handsworth know that Labour in Birmingham has clearly supported and supports the ongoing overcrowding of our area and the lack of investment in services and infrastructure needed to support twice the number of people who now live here compared to 2001.

Locally in Handsworth they have been in power for all of that period and they have held power at council level and in central government for a lot of that period too.  They are responsible. Actions speak louder than words. I and others will keep spreading this message.

It is no good blaming other parties or government. It is Labour who have done this to us and it is Labour who intend to keep on doing this to us.  The new plan for the North West, presented to the Ward meeting in January made no reference to population or housing density or infrastructural developments to support all the extra people, just like they didn’t in the 2003 Plan for the area, so we have to assume more of the same. Nor did any of the Labour councillors at that meeting mention any of these concerns. They are either unaware or simply uninterested in what is really happening here in Handsworth.

I have supported Labour all my life, but this year I will be voting for the TUSC (Trade Union and Socialist Coalition).’

With thanks to Sue Green, Douglas Road resident.

Graphic : Hunt Emerson (Handsworth, circa 2003).

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